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Experimental Philosophical Aesthetics and Human Nature (X-PHI AESTHETICS)
Start date: Jan 15, 2014, End date: Jan 14, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The project is a work of philosophical psychology that investigates aesthetic processes in the context of human nature. Our basic hypothesis is that aesthetics is fundamentally intertwined with morality and language. What sets this project apart from previous philosophical efforts in this realm is the project’s central commitment to empirical investigations and its robust interdisciplinarity. We will tackle classic problems that connect aesthetics to morality and language with both traditional philosophical tools and empirical methods from the cognitive sciences. Hence, in addition to providing a deepened understanding of human nature, the project will also transfer a new philosophical methodology into Europe.Our project will be the first to show how and why the philosophical application of empirical methods will illuminate the non-perceptual aspects of our aesthetic engagement with the world. By focusing on the interactions between aesthetic processes and the capacities that underlie morality and communication, we aim to uncover relationships between aesthetic value, moral value, and the human mind that may be too subtle to detect through the use of traditional philosophical tools alone.The Fellow, Dr. Shen-yi (Sam) Liao, is ideally suited to drive this project to success because he has a unique background that includes both expertise in philosophical aesthetics and experience in empirical methodology. The Host, Dr. Aaron Meskin of University of Leeds, heads up the world-leading Centre of Aesthetics, which possesses a special strength in approaching philosophical aesthetics from a naturalistic perspective. Through knowledge transfer activities such as a summer school and workshops, the fellow will transfer his unique knowledge and skills to European academics. Through outreach activities such as a podcast and collaborations with museums, the project will enrich European citizens' intellectual and cultural lives.
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